December 7, 2012

Mass helps Archbishop Tobin begin ‘great adventure’ of serving local Church

Archdiocesan priests and deacons join Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, the principal celebrant, during a Mass for the first Sunday of Advent on Dec. 1 at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood. Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf, second from left, pastor of the Indianapolis South Deanery parish, was one of the concelebrants. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

Archdiocesan priests and deacons join Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, the principal celebrant, during a Mass for the first Sunday of Advent on Dec. 1 at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood. Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf, second from left, pastor of the Indianapolis South Deanery parish, was one of the concelebrants. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

By Mary Ann Garber

GREENWOOD—When Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin arrived to celebrate Mass on Dec. 1 at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church, he received a special spiritual gift. (See more photos from this event)

“Archbishop Tobin, the young adults and youths of the archdiocese have been in vigil since last night before the Blessed Sacrament praying the rosary, praying the Angelus, praying for you and praying for our Church,” Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf, the pastor, told him. “They have been joined by our seminarians and by parishioners of Our Lady of the Greenwood … for our part in doing what we can for the archdiocese in saying welcome.”

Enthusiastic and extended applause greeted the new archbishop then he acknowledged their gift of prayer.

“Thank you, Msgr. Svarczkopf, and thank you to all of you, especially those who have been here for a while praying for the archdiocese and for its new archbishop—it’s new and nervous archbishop,” he said. “… Even though we are meeting each other for the first time, we already have something very important in common with [our shared] faith.”

In his homily, Archbishop Tobin told the gathering of faithful that he will always remember “where I began the great adventure of serving the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.”

Their much-appreciated gift of “two days of intense prayer highlights the beautiful bond that unites all of us—the bond of our faith,” he said. “… Because of that faith, we can share the gift that is given to us to nourish us, to challenge us, to light our way—the word of God.”

The Gospel readings for the first Sunday of Advent and for much of the new liturgical year are taken from the evangelist St. Luke, he said, “who was called the evangelist of the poor, the evangelist of women and the evangelist of compassion because these themes all share an important place of emphasis in his Gospel. Luke also focuses on the day-to-day following of Jesus with a special emphasis on staying awake.”

At the beginning of Advent, the archbishop said, the word of God asks the Church to be especially alert.

“Advent, my brothers and sisters, is a time of staying awake, of keeping alert, because there are important things and events happening in our lives, and there certainly is more to life than meets the eye,” he said. “… If our faith is awake, however, we believe that … the living God becomes one of us and gives each one of us a chance to be like God.”

The anxieties of daily life can distract us, Archbishop Tobin said, and even suffocate the spark of our faith.

“Even in our troubles, Jesus tells us to stand up straight and hold our heads high because our redemption is at hand,” he said. “… What helps us to stay awake is the time and the care that we give to our friendship with Jesus. … If he is our friend and somebody we can converse with each day then our house is built on solid ground and nothing will destroy it.”

Catholics must be an active part of the Church community, listen to God’s word often, participate in the sacraments and help others in need, the archbishop emphasized, in order to keep our hearts open to the Lord.

“If we can see Christ in the suffering and in the poor,” he said, “it means that the eyes of our hearts are wide open.”

Archbishop Tobin also invited the young people at the Mass to “keep the eyes of your hearts open for a special message that God might be sending to you.

“It may be that God is inviting you to serve him in the Church as a priest or a sister or a brother,” the archbishop said. “And wouldn’t it be tragic if you missed that call because your heart was asleep?”

After requesting the people’s prayers for his new ministry and promising to pray for them, Archbishop Tobin said he has asked “Jesus to make me a shepherd after his own heart that I may carry out the mission that has been entrusted to me—this mission in central and southern Indiana.

“I certainly will pray for you,” he said, “that your hearts will stay awake and alert every day to the invitation of Jesus to follow him.” †

 

(Click here to see stories, photos and videos from the installation Mass)

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